In this traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) case, our client was a 54-year-old woman who was visiting her sister in Washington D.C. for the holidays. On December 28, 2019, she was travelling on Interstate 81 near Lexington, Virginia, back to her home in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was a passenger while her son was driving, and her granddaughter was in the back seat. During their drive home, a semitruck made an unsafe lane change at a high-speed and clipped the rear driver side of their car, causing it to go airborne and flip multiple times before landing.
Our client was transported via Medevac to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, Virginia, where she was diagnosed with a concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury. She also suffered from a contusion and laceration to the right side of her face.
She was discharged from the hospital and stayed in a local hotel for a night before returning home to North Carolina. During her hotel stay, she began to suffer from common TBI symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light (“photophobia”), blurry/double vision, and headaches.
This client had no significant prior medical history or ongoing medical problems. She was a pediatric home health nurse for high-risk children who had tracheostomy tubes and was in the process of obtaining her Registered Nursing license. Upon returning home, she started seeking treatment for her ongoing TBI symptoms, specifically her chronic headaches and vision difficulties.
Weeks after the crash, she tried returning to work but had developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) such as nightmares and a fear of driving. Her employer accommodated her by arranging for rides to and from her patients’ homes using Uber. Eventually, her employer was no longer able to accommodate this routine, and as her symptoms persisted, her confidence in her ability to safely care for her pediatric patients declined.
Eventually, our client moved back to her hometown New Orleans, Louisiana. She was offered multiple nursing jobs at a large health care system due to her extensive experience in different nursing settings. Unfortunately, she struggled to keep up with her tasks and feared making mistakes due to her persistent headaches and vision problems. Because she was no longer able to perform at her previous level, she was terminated. Having been a nurse for over 20 years, this was devastating to our client as she described nursing as her calling.
Our client’s past medical bills were approximately $86,000. A life care planner and brain injury medicine doctor determined her future medical care would likely cost about $1.245 million. Her lost past wages totaled $5,700 and lost future earning capacity was estimated to be $720,000.
During discovery, the trucking company was asked if the semitruck recorded any data relating to this crash. As a result, they produced the data collected from the truck’s Omnitracs system as well as dash camera footage depicting the initial impact of the crash. The video footage shows the truck driver clipping the back of our client’s vehicle, causing the sedan to dart across I-81 and into the median.The trucking company admitted liability for this crash after nearly a year and a half of litigation, and the trial proceeded as to damages only. After four days of hearing medical evidence from numerous treating doctors at trial in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, in Roanoke, the federal court jury awarded our client $3.5 million in compensatory damages for her injuries. The trial judge was U.S. District Judge Thomas T. Cullen. Kevin Mottley and Ben Kyber of The Mottley Law Firm co-counseled this case with Jonathan Wren of the Charlottesville law firm, MartinWren.